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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Earth Fest creates community

Sam Dion
“Earth Fest April 18” is displayed on the Egyptian Theatre marquee. The film “Common Ground” premiered for the first time in Northern Illinois at Earth Fest and was followed by a panel of local farmers and experts on regenerative agriculture. (Sam Dion | Northern Star)

Despite the dreary, drizzling rain outside, environmental activists and members of the DeKalb community gathered Thursday inside the Egyptian Theatre to participate in the inaugural Earth Fest.

Hosted by climate advocacy group DeCarbon DeKalb, Earth Fest aimed to support sustainability, community engagement and environmentally friendly practices. 

This family-friendly event was in celebration of Earth Week and brought out over 100 people, including NIU students and members of the DeKalb community.

There were over 30 vendors present with various booths set up presenting information on a variety of topics such as climate change migration, sustainability and the importance of pollination.

Loud chatter filled the theater as attendees went from booth to booth, learning about environmental topics and meeting DeKalb farmers and environmental activists.

The event was informative on all things sustainability and the environment. Briana Anders, a senior environmental science major, thought the event was a great thing to have to engage the DeKalb community.

“I know we’re in a lot of beginning stages of trying to talk about climate mitigation, and I think that getting the community members involved will allow them to try to change their behaviors or even think about the environment and climate that they’re in,” Anders said.

The upstairs of the theater presented more interactive activities. NIU Steam had a table covered with thin strips of t-shirt fabric that could be braided and upcycled into bracelets or other accessories.

There was also a collaborative collage. Spread across a table were magazine clippings and pictures of birds, butterflies, frogs and much more. These photos could be taped to a nearby window.

Earth Fest also featured the Northern Illinois premiere of “Common Ground.”

Attendees filed into the auditorium before the documentary began and took their seats. As the lights slowly dimmed, the strong smell of freshly buttered popcorn wafted through the air.

The documentary focused on the importance of soil, regenerative agriculture – the process of using sustainable farming practices to maintain healthy soil – and the dangers of herbicide and pesticide usage.

As the credits began to roll, applause and cheers spread across the theater.

Kendra Holton, co-founder of DeCarbon DeKalb, asked the audience to shout out one word they felt described the film. Audience members replied with the words heavy, excited, educational, inspirational and hope.

Following the screening, five panelists took the stage to discuss the documentary and answer any questions about what it’s like to work in the agriculture industry. 

The panelists included Rosalie Trump, a regenerative livestock farmer, Anita Zurbrugg, a local regenerative agriculture expert, Bryan Flower, head of NIU’s Edible Campus, and Marcy and Chris Prchal, biointensive farmers. 

During the panel, Mary Prchal expressed the importance of not getting disheartened when fighting for our planet.

“It can be very frustrating, but I think it kind of goes back to what I was saying before, when I look at in just our small space the positive changes that are happening, it makes it worth it,” Prchal said. 

The event encouraged community members to get involved with sustainable food and environmental practices.

“Get your hands in the soil,” Flower said.

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